Occupy Wall Street: Fear vs. Fair
By Douglas Forbes
October 21, 2011 "Huffington Post" -- If the Occupy Movement makes clear but one concept, it is the concept of fear.
Fear can keep us from entering dark spaces. From attaching ourselves to a notion. From fulfilling personal truths.
Fear is neither perpendicular nor parallel. There is no right angle. No direct route in or out. T.S. Eliot once wrote, "I will show you fear in a handful of dust."
Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy events around the nation and globe are fear personified. But that fear resides not within those who have their heels upon the tarmac and their heads squarely upon their shoulders in Occupy's revolution for relevance. No, those souls are conquering fear with courage, with commitment.
In actuality, the irrefutable and twenty four carat fear rests squarely upon the shoulders of those who hide inside their ivory towers, their glass castles, their 1 percentile magic bubble.
Thomas Jefferson said, "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty." Yet, should we not have foreseen the future alliance of government and financial speculation when, In 1789, Wall Street hosted the first presidential inauguration of George Washington?
Sadly, fearing government has been our modus operandi for decades, possibly generations, and government fearing citizenry has scarcely forged a blip on the radar screen. But is there a new tide rushing ashore? Is the fight for fairness over fear at a true tipping point in financial districts, Capitol stairwells, news studios and the collective psyche?
Much has been made of the Occupy fervor. But what of its demands? Has anything been etched in stone? By what margin do we demand Wall Street barons and conglomerates forgo their fruits? What of regulations for scrutinizing and securing practices that unplug the electric fences dividing our classes? How exactly do we arrive at "fair?"
What if your mother was a cleaning woman and your father worked three jobs as a barber, janitor and chauffeur? Though you grew up near poor in, let's say, urban Tennessee, their example illustrated to you that hard work could pay off. Because it got you into college. It even got you an advanced degree. And a good job at a big company earning a decent wage. Eventually, their work ethic -- instilled in you -- got you rungs up the ladder to a point where, at just 40 years old, you take the reins of a thousand-store franchise. Now that's the kind of story we love to hear. One that is not only fair, but phenomenally heartwarming.
Or is it?
What if you determine the franchise is not nearly profitable enough? So, during the very first year of your stewardship, you decide that the most direct (more aptly, expedient) way to right the ship is to cut the amount of franchises in half, laying off scores of people in the process? What if that move, at the cost of myriad lives affected in the wake of profiteering, got you even further up that proverbial ladder, somewhere around the white, fluffy clouds where hundred dollar bills with wings float about on satin pillows? Is that fair? Is that what you learned growing up poor?
The other evening, Republican Presidential hopeful, Herman Cain, defended his now (in)famous 9-9-9 plan on CNN. Anchor John King asked Mr. Cain if he believed the effects of such a plan were fair to the lower and middle income folks who would bear the lion's share of the tax burden, to which Mr. Cain replied, "How do you define fair?" Well, Mr. Cain, how did your cleaning lady mother and your barber/janitor/chauffeur father define "fair" for you during that near poor Tennessee life long before you sliced and diced your way to those white, fluffy clouds?
If we are in such a state as a people that we need to remember, let alone war over, instead of proactively practice the essence of economic and social fairness, then perhaps we first need to define our worth in the food chain of organisms upon this planet.
Those who ordinarily look way, way down through the wide window of their lofty perch that conceals the secrets, tips and tricks exchanged within their brokerage office or investment hub are ordinarily pleased to see that the view below is one of traffic moving this way or that with nary an ounce of attention to what lurks above. Lately, however, that view down below has changed. The traffic has slowed. The masses are gathering. There's a bad itch in the air. And the secrets are no longer safe. Those far above may be backing away from the windows. But they have to come down at some point.
Head HERE to see a wonderful video from acclaimed filmmaker, Michael Nigro, and specially released song by renowned folk singer, Bill Fox. And share at will with those who want to occupy history in the making.